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Buma to drop controversial tariff discounts

The Dutch PRO has become the first to axe its contentious system of rebates, retaining only a "completely transparent" 5% discount for certain promoters

By Jon Chapple on 24 Nov 2016

Fortarock in the City 2015, Buma Rocks!, Bart Heemskerk

Crowdsurfing at the Buma Rocks! showcase at FortaRock 2015

image © Bart Heemskerk

Dutch performing rights organisation (PRO) Buma, one of several PROs known to be offering controversial live tariff rebates to promoters, is to abolish the practice from 1 January 2017.

Rates will remain unchanged from 2016 – a maximum of 7% for events with more than two-thirds Buma repertoire; 5% for between one and two thirds; and 3% for less than a third – but the practice of granting ‘volume discounts’, under which promoters receive up to 25% of money earmarked for songwriters and composers, will cease.

Buma – the PRO component of Buma/Stemra, with Stemra overseeing mechanical rights – currently offers rebates ranging from 10% (for license-fee invoices of between €75,000 and €250,000) to 25% (€1m+). Other PROs offering discounts to promoters include Sabam in Belgium, SIAE in Italy, Gema in Germany, Suisa in Switzerland and Sacem in France, with most justifying the practice by saying promoters are helping to administer public performance rights.

A spokesman for Buma tells IQ the plan to drop the current rebates took into consideration the views of “all market players, including authors and performers”, and has been approved by the Supervisory Board of Collection Societies (College van Toezicht Auteursrechten, CvTA).

While the volume discount will end, there will be a smaller discount of 5% available to promoters that organise more than 25 shows per year and pay more than €100,000 in annual Buma fees.

“The new tariff is completely transparent, and creates a level playing field for all promoters, venues and festivals”

To qualify for the discount, promoters will also, the PRO explains, need to “pay monthly advance invoices to Buma, provide financial security in the form of bank guarantees, report repertoire in a way that allows Buma to digitally fingerprint any songs played [and] provide backstage access to Buma to events for inspection purposes”. (The 5% deduction will therefore, says the spokesman, be a “fee for services rendered”.)

The PRO will also introduce a ‘special event’ tariff for festivals “with a significant share of the cost in an overnight stay: hotel, campsite, bungalow, etc.” The tariff – designed for events lasting at least two days and with minimum turnover of €1m minus VAT – will allow festivals to deduct 45% from tickets that include an overnight stay.

The new system, says Buma, is “completely transparent, and creates a level playing field for all promoters, venues and festivals”.

The practice of awarding rebates to promoters is among the factors contributing to the rise of direct licensing, in which performers cut out PROs to license their performance rights directly from festivals.

There have, however, already been signs of a pushback by festivals faced with the prospect of paying twice, with festival association Yourope advising its members against booking bands who choose to collect their royalties directly.


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